Early in May we enjoyed a tasting of wines from Gérard Bertrand, tutored by François Pages, the export manager. Gérard Bertrand was a professional rugby union player who retired to take over the Corbières family estate after his father died. He expanded the business, acquired new estates, and developed biodynamic methods. He now owns or manages 15 estates, all in Languedoc Roussillon. He is recognised as one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France, and is known locally as the ‘King of Languedoc’.
We tasted the following splendid wines:
‘Code Rouge’ Crémant De Limoux – a blend mainly of Chardonnay, with a small amount of Chenin Blanc and Mauzac grapes. Limoux is the oldest sparkling wine producing region in the world. The first sparkling wine was made by monks, and the ‘emblematic’ red colour of the bottle may signify the clothing of the monks.
2017 Pinot Noir ‘Reserve Spéciale’ – 100% Pinot Noir.
2017 Syrah ‘Prima Nature’ – 100% Syrah
2016 Or & Azur Bee-Friendly Languedoc Red – Grenache 60%, Syrah 40%.
This wine is certified organic and “Bee Friendly”. The certification is based on criteria which protect bees and pollinators. Pesticides which are harmful to pollinators are prohibited. Apiaries must be installed on the estates.
2015 Terroir Saint Chinian – Syrah 70%, Mourvèdre 30%
2015 Chateau La Sauvageonne Grand Vin ‘Terrasses Du Larzac’ – Syrah 50%, Grenache 35%, Mourvèdre 8%, Carignan 7%.
The grapes are from the north of the Hérault département, where there is a great drop in temperature at night, and the grapes are slow to mature.
2016 Domaine De Cigalus Rouge ‘Aude Hauterive’ – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Caladoc, Carignan.
‘Caladoc’ is a crossing of Grenache and Malbec created in the late 1950s by Paul Truel, who was an ampelographer, that is to say, an expert in the identification and classification of grapes. This grape variety is used in blends in Provence and the Languedoc, but is not permitted in any of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée wines. Paul Truel also created Marselan, a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.
2015 La Forge Corbières ‘Boutenac’ – 50% 100-year old Carignan vines and 50% Syrah, from a single vineyard.
The flagship red, from Bertrand’s first family estate, Domaine de Villemajou. Corbières Boutenac is a newly recognized appellation. 10-12 months in 225-litre oak barrels, no pressing or filtering before being bottled. Aged in bottle for 12 months before release. A huge wine! Drinking well within 10 years. On sale for around £60.
2012 Clos D’Ora Minervois ‘La Livinière’ – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and a small proportion of very old Carignan.
The first vintage of this wine. Maceration and vatting is carried out separately for each grape variety, French oak barrel ageing for 12 months, and the blending is first with the Syrah, then Grenache, then Mourvèdre, finally Carignan. One of the most expensive Languedoc wines, which would be priced at around £180 or more if it were available to buy.
1974 Rivesaltes ‘Legend’ – Grenache, Grenache Gris, Maccabeu. Fortified, 17%.
Rivesaltes is the largest appellation for vins doux naturels, made by mutage, adding alcohol to the must, which stops the fermentation process and thereby retains a high level of sweetness.
The main grape varieties used for Rivesaltes are Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir and Macabeu. This wine is among the top 10 most highly rated Rivesaltes, by critic scores. Gérard Bertrand’s notes on food and wine pairing suggest serving this wine with Roquefort, chocolate or walnut cake. It sells at around £160.